Romney promises to roll back defense cuts

The across-the-board cuts to Pentagon spending are sure to be a hot topic at the final presidential debate on Oct. 22, which will be devoted to national security. 

Romney has vowed to boost shipbuilding and bump the size of the military more than 100,000 troops higher than Obama’s plans. He has criticized the current plan to cut $487 billion from the Pentagon budget through the Budget Control Act, and attacked Obama over the $500-billion sequestration cut that would begin to take effect Jan. 2.

Obama is opposed to letting the $500-billion sequestration cuts occur. While Republicans have made an active attempt to blame Obama for sequestration, Democrats point out that a majority of Republicans — including Romney’s running mate Rep. Paul Ryan — voted for the Budget Control Act that set sequestration in motion.

The defense cuts are an issue where both the Romney and Obama campaigns seem to think they have the upper hand.

In the first debate, Obama criticized Romney’s plan to add $2 trillion in defense spending that “the Pentagon doesn’t want.” He argues that Romney and Republicans are putting tax cuts for the wealthy ahead of cuts to the military by not compromising on the fiscal cliff.

Republicans counter that Obama is putting his insistence on raising taxes ahead of keeping the military strong.

The $500 billion in defense cuts in sequestration have been rolled into part of the broader fight over tax policy, as they are a key part of the "fiscal cliff" deliberations in the lame-duck session after the election.

In his speech Monday, Romney talked about where his defense strategy would focus most: the Navy. He has pledged to ramp up shipbuilding to 15 ships per year, including 3 submarines, and criticized Obama on Monday for letting the size of the Navy drop to its lowest level since 1916, a reference to the number of Navy ships dropping below 300 (the Pentagon argues the current fleet is much more capable than it was in the past).